Fall 2017–Winter 2018

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Illustration from the manuscript “Philosophorum Praeclara Monita” (The most renowned maxims of philosophers), 1710–1712. Created by an anonymous French author, the volume contains allegorical illustrations based on images from earlier works ascribed to figures purportedly associated with alchemy, including the Parisian scribe Nicolas Flamel (ca. 1340–1418). This scene, which depicts a so-called hermetic stream running through a garden, is attributed to Flamel’s “The Figures of Abraham the Jew,” which was said to contain alchemical teachings that the Frenchman—historically considered one of the leading adepts of the practice in the medieval period—had gleaned from a manuscript written by the eponymous alchemist (represented by the figure in the right foreground). Some scholars, however, believe that Flamel’s book, like his involvement with alchemy in general, was in fact a seventeenth-century confabulation.
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